Playing tight - getting a feel for good timing
Numerous cancellations, postponements and lockdowns have not been good for the music and culture industries. Thus, many concertgoers are still catching up on their concert visits today, in some cases still holding tickets from 2020. Even though many musicians are happy to be able to perform again without worries at the moment, the loss of revenue is enormous. But how exactly is the music industry recovering from the lockdown over time and what changes are taking place in the long term? In this post, we look ahead and show you how the lockdown has affected the industry.
In today's world, many musicians make their living from live performances, festivals, concerts and many other activities. Even though CD and download sales continue to work, the profits generated in this field are nowhere near what they used to be. We’ve covered the topic of CD sales in more detail in another article. It is clear, however, that the many cancellations also have a strong financial impact.
Even though COVID-19 aid was also available for artists, it was only able to cushion the damage to a small extent. While many well-known musicians already have a strong financial cushion, newcomers and artists with a growing fan base were hit hard during the lockdown. For example, many bands and individual artists make a name for themselves by opening for major acts. Such opportunities did not exist during the lockdown, making it difficult for new artists to break through.
Basically, there were two lockdowns from a trade perspective. Both during the first wave and the second Corona wave. However, it cannot be formulated quite so clearly for culture and music. For many clubs, it was not possible to host events and receive guests between April 2020 and April 2022. The situation was similar for musicians and bands, who were also unable to organize large concerts due to the strict hygiene standards.
Therefore, artists and musicians who make a living from live performances were hit even harder during these closure phases. Smaller performances with masks and social distancing were certainly possible, but visiting a concert under these circumstances can only partially replicate the vibes at a traditional live show. Even if it is already possible to hold concerts again today, many events are still purely catch-up dates for the cancelled events of the last two years.
For well-known artists, there were also some opportunities to attract attention during the lockdowns. They were able to put more energy into new tracks, boost sales of downloads and CDs, launch collaborative projects, or host digital streams and online concerts. Others, on the other hand, used the creative break for their own development.
For musicians who have yet to make a name for themselves in the music business, however, the lockdown has been extremely damaging. It made it virtually impossible for them to stand out from the masses of acts and expand their own fan base. Measures such as advertising via social media were able to cushion this effect slightly, but even the best posts are no substitute for a live performance. Therefore, the conditions for newcomers are anything but ideal.
A direct comparison between the different industries is hardly possible for the lockdown. In the culture sector, for example, there have sometimes been closures for up to two years, while retail has only had to close its doors for a few weeks. The requirements are also fundamentally different, as it is difficult to keep a permanent watch on spacing at concerts, festivals and in clubs. At this point, the risk of infection may well be higher, resulting in harsher cuts in the form of lockdowns. The effects between the industries are not comparable.
As a result of the numerous lockdowns, some changes occurred in the music industry. Whereas before the lockdown it was almost impossible for clubs to let in all of their on-site patrons, many establishments struggled with irrelevance during the lockdown. While some clubs were restructured out of necessity to become test centers, other facilities attracted attention with digital and new free content. The goal: not to be forgotten.
Streaming platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, and Instagram have therefore become more important during the pandemic. Those who want to distinguish between winners and losers have it easy on this issue. The main problem for musicians during this phase is that digital events had to be free and relied solely on donations. Thus, during the lockdown, it was mostly about keeping loyal fans and showing that things would continue again after the lockdown. Even if couch concerts don't necessarily indicate that to everyone, of course.
Digital offerings during the lockdown were a good alternative for many users to keep their spirits up when alternatives were closed. When celebrating together via Zoom and the online concert that was running at the same time, there was almost a nice atmosphere. However, after the end of the lockdowns that impacted various industries, music and culture were practically on their own. As a result, many people switched to other options, replacing live music in their everyday lives.
For this reason, the challenge was to be able to stay in the back of people's minds despite the many alternatives, in order to get back on track after the lockdown. Thanks to many creative ideas, this was quite successful. However, in order to be prepared for possible restrictions, you should take tasks such as marketing into your own hands if possible. A website for example, can be a big help.
The many reactions and the concerts on offer, some of which are fully booked after just a few minutes, show the anticipation of many visitors. For most, the complete abandonment of live music was anything but nice, so a return to real concerts and events was very important. Nevertheless, some differences have emerged that you as a musician should always keep in mind for your own performances and events:
It is clear, of course, that most musicians are now absolutely motivated again after a two-year break to inspire their fans with live performances. So there are currently many gigs where tickets from previous years as well as new tickets can be used. For most musicians, the current summer is thus a chance to make up for the difficult times of the previous two years, to become better known and to get fans celebrating again.
Whether new restrictions and rules are coming cannot be accurately predicted at this time. A concrete lockdown has been ruled out, but music and culture do not seem to have enjoyed high priority in politics so far. Therefore, it remains questionable how things will look in the winter or at the start of the new year. Musicians are not the only ones affected by this uncertainty. Artists, clubs, theaters, and similar institutions can hardly rely on reliable planning. Digital alternatives therefore remain important.
It remains to be seen what concrete measures will play a role. From today's perspective, a complete return of couch concerts and such community events is hardly conceivable, as many people have become extremely lockdown-weary in the meantime. Nevertheless, streams and other alternatives will of course remain dominant, which will certainly bring the leading platform many new users again in the fall and winter. In this way, the music business is also becoming more and more digital.
While looking back at the many lockdowns and restrictions by Corona now seems exhausting for many, a warm summer is just the right thing for most. Festivals and concerts with many other people almost remind us of the times before Corona. Therefore, in the name of mukken, we wish you a pleasant time, which you—with caution and consideration, of course—can fully enjoy again musically in the meantime. Feel free to use our personal ads for musicians and exchange information about the best concerts.
Originally published on November 21, 2022, updated on February 3, 2023
Main topic: Everybody can sing - this is how you learn it right!